A 27-year-old veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who has been diagnosed with “severe PTSD” has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Former Army sniper SSG Cory Griffin was sentenced Thursday after his defense team fought for an alternative prison program over the last two years, according to The Gazette.
While Griffin is accused of shooting a fellow soldier in the hand on November 9th of 2014, the two accounts of the incident differ from physiological evaluations conducted on Griffin.
Psychologist Miriam Blum testified on Griffin’s behalf, citing that Griffin crawled into a utility closet and screamed about the Taliban after shooting the fellow soldier in the hand.
This account –as well as the belief that Griffin was in dissociative state- was also supported by Maj. Gen. Ryan Gonsalves, the highest ranking officer at Fort Carson, Colorado, where the shooting occurred.
Gonsalves ordered that Griffin be considered for medical release from the Army terminating any disciplinary action against Griffin.
Meanwhile, shooting victim Nathan Dragovich requested that the presiding Judge, Lin Billings, give Griffin the maximum sentence.
Dragovich claims that Griffin pointed the gun at his head and the only reason he survived is because he swatted it away, resulting in a gunshot to the hand –which may result in the loss of a thumb.
According to the Gazette, evidence does not support Dragovich’s account, there were no powder burns on his hand to suggest he swatted the gun or was in close enough proximity to the muzzle of the weapon.
Additionally, Dragovich first reported the incident as an accident and there are documents to show it. However, it was Griffins wife’s first account that set the precedence for the case.
During her frantic call to police she assumed that her husband shot Dragovich because of a suspicion of adultery. She later recanted, claiming she jumped to conclusions about her husband’s motive in the chaotic aftermath of a shooting.
Griffin was given a plea agreement of second-degree assault with a mandatory prison sentence.
The 4th Judicial District was duty-bound to impose a prison sentence unless the prosecutors agreed to drop “two sentence enhancers they appended to the charges,” according to Lance Benzel of The Gazette.
Senior prosecutor, Brien Cecil, accused a psychologist, who defended Griffin, of “drinking the Kool-Aid” after stating Griffin’s episodes were a direct result of his combat experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While it remains unknown what the outcome of a trial may have brought, Griffin’s Defense attorney determined that pleading guilty to lesser charges was a superior alternative than the prospect of the 40-year sentence can be imposed with an attempted murder charge.
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